Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Passover 2011

It's hard to believe that Passover is over. So much goes into preparing for the holiday and now it's over. I had a great holiday celebrating with family in Boca Raton, Florida. My mom and aunt teamed up to make some amazing food, we drank some great wine, and the seders, while traditional, were still very entertaining. I also soaked up plenty of sun sitting poolside and at the beach.

I was only able to run during 4 of the 10 days I was away so I was determined to make them count. I had to early in the morning because, as soon as the sun comes up, it's way too hot to run. Coach planned out the 4 days like this:

 Monday (April 18, the 1st seder was that night): 20 minutes in zone 2, 1 hour in upper zone 3, cool down 10 minutes with an easy jog. The 20 minutes in zone 2 went fine but once I started the upper zone 3 portion of the run, I was instantly reminded why I hate running during the summer months. I started at 5:30 am and it was already 75 and 100% humidity. I know everyone is different but my asthma gets really bad when the humidity is high. I cut the tempo part of the run short at 55 minutes. My heart rate was much than it should have been for the effort I was exerting and I didn't want to risk an attack. 9.61 miles in 1:15:53 (7:53 average pace).

Thursday (April 21, first intermediate day of Passover): warm up for 8 - 10 minutes then run 4 x 7 minutes in zone 4 with a 2 minute recovery. My body felt fresh after 2 days of no running because of the holiday but I was somewhat nervous about another fast paced workout in the Florida heat. Thankfully it was less humid and I got the workout done. 6.83 miles in 53:30 (7:49 average pace).

Friday (April 22, second intermediate day of Passover): recovery run. very, very easy. This run felt easy but when I looked at the data after the run it was much faster than my recovery runs I do in NJ. I chalked it up to the pancake flat terrain in South Florida. No hills to speak of what so ever. 9.07 miles in 1:15:29 (8:19 average pace).

Sunday (April 24, last intermediate day of Passover): 2:45 in zone 2. After Shabbat, my mom and I mixed up my kosher for Passover "sports" drink and I portioned out some dates for Sunday's long run. Even though it's not the most exciting route, I stayed within my parent's development because there are plenty of water fountains and bathrooms. I also didn't want to stray too far from my parent's place in case I didn't feel well and needed to stop. I hydrated often, taking in 8 oz. of the drink every 35 - 40 minutes and eating 4-5 dates every hour (just as I would with gels). The last 6 miles were a grind. The sun was up and it was hot. There were a few moments during the last 45 minutes where I wanted to call it quits but I got through it. 20 miles in 2:45 (8:14 average pace).

Monday and Tuesday (April 25 - 26) were the last days of Passover, and today (April 27) I was traveling home from Florida. I definitely made my running days count, I logged about 45 miles over the 4 days  I got all my running done early, often before Mrs. and Lil Ansky woke up. Getting the miles in were important but so was spending time with family.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Small Mechanical Change Can Make All the Difference

As you know, I've been dealing with some calf and hamstring soreness after my ridiculously hilly run in the Palisades 10 days ago. I was able to run but could not run any of my fast workouts. The best I could do were easy miles on flat terrain. During that week, I did a lot of stretching, foam rolling, and I got a sports massage. All three of those helped but I was still sore and could still not run fast. I was beginning to get worried and flipping out. "What if I can't run Vermont?" I asked Mrs. Ansky. I really thought I was injured and my hopes of a sub-3:30 in Vermont were slipping away.

Then I had a talk with Coach Jeff. He calmed me down and after talking through how my legs felt, he was pretty sure that I was not injured and that I just beat my legs up running up some very steep hills. Then he reminded me of something we talked about when we met up in Denver. During my visit, he took some video of me on the treadmill. He pointed out that I was running up on my toes instead of on my forefoot. He told me to focus on landing "flat" so I would not be engaging my calves as much as I was. The next day I went out for another easy run. This time focusing on landing "flat" and guess what happened? My calves much better. Not yet 100% but much better than earlier in the week. I ripped off a few sub-8:00 towards to the end of the run and it felt hard but sustainable. I probably could have run more miles at the pace had time permitted.

I am currently down in Boca Raton, FL celebrating Passover with my family. I'll write more about my running down here later but between the extra rest and the mechanical change I am back on track.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fuel for a Passover Long Run

Passover is a little more than a week away. Many of us are feverishly cleaning, shopping for kosher for Passover items, and deciding when turn over the kitchen. I'm one of the lucky ones, since my family goes away (to Boca Raton, Florida) for entire holiday, all I have to do is sell my chametz and lock the door. I wrote a pretty lengthy post last year summarizing the restrictions attached to food during Passover. As with most other Jewish holidays, there are days where running is off limits. Honestly, I'm looking forward to some extra rest. I have been going full throttle since January and my body will appreciate some extra rest days before the final push to the Vermont City Marathon.

There are intermediate days of Passover called Chol Hamoed where everyday activities including running are permitted. Last year, my wife and mom concocted a homemade "sports drink" using kosher for Passover ingredients. In addition to the drink, I ate dates in place of gels. The combination of the 2 gave me more than enough energy for a 21+ miler last year. I thought I'd share it again for those of you that have a long run planned during Passover:

Passover Sports Drink
24 oz. water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
1/3 bag jello mix (for flavoring)

Dissolve jello in warm water then mix with other ingredients. Chill and enjoy.

There is one other recipe I wanted to share. Last year, Mom made a Passover granola which was out of this world. I could not eat enough of it and my mother could not make enough of it.

Passover Granola (courtesy of Bergen County Jewish Standard)
3 cups matza farfel (kind of like matza croutons)
1 cup pecans, chopped (mom used walnuts)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2/3 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup raisins
1/2 chopped apricots
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325. Place all ingredients in a large bowl, stir with a spoon until mixed. Grease a cookie sheet with sides and spread mixture evenly on it. Bake for 75 minutes or until mixture browns. Watch this carefully after 50 minutes to make sure it doesn't burn. Stir it occasionally. Can be made up to a week or two in advance, Store in an airtight container. Makes 5 or 6 cups.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Something Memorable

I first wrote about the Jerusalem Marathon in my Chanukah series "8 races I want to run in my lifetime." Jerusalem is the holiest city in my faith. We pray about it every day and yearn for the ultimate redemption and the building of the 3rd Temple.

The inaugural Jerusalem Marathon took place on March 25, 2011. Just a few days before, a bomb killed one person and wounded many others not too far from where the race expo was being held). Within hours of the explosion Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat (a marathoner himself) said that the race will go on as planned. "We will not be scared." 10,000 combined people participated marathon, half marathon, and 10k races.

I did not run the race but I know at least one friend that did. Thanks to the power of social media, I was able to find this video which was posted the New York Daily News' "Running Dialogue" blog.

The course covers many important parts of the city 3,000 year old history. From Zion and Jaffa Gates in the Old City to Ammunition Hill, one of the pivotal battles during the Six-Day War.

I turn 40 in December of 2012 and I've been giving some thought about doing something memorable to celebrate my milestone birthday. My initial was goal to try and qualify for Boston. I think I found something better. As Jewish athlete I can't think of anything more memorable than running 26.2 miles through the holiest city on earth.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Race Report: Indian Trails 15k

Yesterday I ran the Indian Trails 15k in Navesink, NJ. Despite its name, it was not a trail race. Parts of the course were on dirt roads but it was definitely not a trail race. The night before, I got a voice recording from Coach Jeff. He told me to run the race hard, not to sell myself short, and that this race will be a good test to see where I'm at 8 weeks before the Vermont City Marathon. Coach basically gave me my race plan in an 18 second voice recording.

The drive to Navesink from Teaneck took about an hour. After picking up my race packet and warming up with some strides, it was time to race. The did give out chips but since there was no starting mat, scoring would be against the gum time. Not such a big deal in a small race. When am I going to learn not to go out too fast? As I approached the clock at mile 1, I saw 6:57. I knew there was no way I could hold that pace on this course for 8.3 more miles. I settled down into an effort that felt hard but sustainable. The race is described as "a challenging race through the scenic hills of Navesink. If you like flat and fast, sorry this course is not for you." It's one thing to know the course is hilly but until you start racing you really have no idea what to expect. This is elevation profile as recorded by my Garmin
This course was no joke. The good news is, I was able to run up all the hills and I recovered well on the flats and the downhills. I saw plenty of racers running way too fast on the downhills and walking up the hills. I made sure to hold back and conserve energy so I'd have enough strength to run up every hill.

The last hill was a doozy. Not only was it steep but is was also on one of the aforementioned dirt roads. This made running up the hill harder (for me) as the footing was uneven and I could not push off as quickly in the soft dirt. I worked together with some other runners, each of grunting and cursing.  We put our heads down, put one foot in front of the other, pumped our arms and we made it to the top. The final downhill treated us to gorgeous view:
Picture courtesy of Indian Trails Road Race Web Site
Once at the bottom of the hill, I felt good so I kicked up the pace for a strong finish. My official time was 1:10:36 for an average pace of 7:38/mile. A great effort on a very tough course.

I really like the small, locally organized race experience. Thanks to the Sandy Hook Triathlon Club for a great race.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Totals for March 2011

Total number of Runs: 14
Total Time: 16:22:16
Total Miles: 119.34

Average Time: 1:10:09
Average Distance: 8.52
Average Pace per Mile: 8:13

Miles Run to Date: 369.58

Not a bad month considering I missed 2 long runs in the month, 1 for Purim and the other because I was traveling to Denver. I didn't PR at Coogan's, but considering the hilly course and the rain, I was happy with the effort. I had 2 solid progression runs which really boosted my confidence. Both times I was able to run the last 5 miles of each run at sub-8:00 pace. I am starting to believe that, all things being equal, I can hit the goal that Jeff and I talked about on Monday.

What's up for April? I'll be racing the Indian Trails 15k on Sunday. Passover starts the evening of April 18. There will be several days where I can't run some because I'll be traveling to and from South Florida and others because I don't run on Yom Tov, basically the same reason why I don't on Saturdays. I just need to focus on the work Coach Jeff assigns and enjoy the time with my family.

Vermont City Marathon is 8 weeks from this Sunday.